In the Netherlands a voluntary environmental agreement is used as a mechanism to achieve improvement with regard to reduction of environmental pollution resulting from the E&P activities. Experiences with this mechanism have improved the understanding between the E&P industry and the Government with regard to the implementation of environmental measures. The Dutch government improved their knowledge in such a way that quantified environmental performance indicators for each individual E&P operator have been derived using the benchmarking process as described in the ISO 14000 standards. From this benchmarking the Government has assessed the Best In Class among the E&P operators. This approach has been used as a driving mechanism to stimulate the improvement of the environmental performance of those operators. By applying the voluntary agreement mechanism the E&P industry together with the Dutch Government have achieved to reduce the environmental impact together, especially with regard to the emissions to air.
Experience in time showed for the Netherlands that the original way applied by the Dutch government to implement environmental measures, i.e. by law and regulations, does not work effectively. Or it does not create the necessary environmental awareness from the concerned parties to achieve a continuous improvement mode with regard to the quality of the environment of the Netherlands.
Recognising that fact it formed the basis for the first National Environmental Policy Plan (NEPP) to be approved and published in 1990 by the Dutch Parliament. Since that time another two NEPPs have been approved and published. These plans set the global boundaries, address the relevant environmental themes, set the overall targets to be achieved within a specific timeframe, underline the generic environmental principles and strategies to be applied for achieving those targets.
But above all, the main starting point of the NEPP is that the implementation of such plan should be based on a continuous deliberation with the concerned target groups. The objective of these deliberations is to come up with environmental agreements, called environmental covenants, in which the agreed ways are described in how to implement those plans for a specific target group, like the Dutch E&P Industry.
This paper gives a general outline of the mechanism by which the concerned parties, i.e. the Dutch E&P Industry and the competent Dutch authorities, have managed to reduce the environmental impact together. The industry by recognising their self - responsibility towards the environment due to their activities and the authorities by taking into account the economical possibilities of the industry.
On June 2, 1995 a Declaration of Intent1 on Implementation of Environmental Policy for the oil and gas exploration and production Industry has been signed between the Dutch Government and the Dutch Association of E&P operators, the NOGEPA. This so-called E&P Environmental Covenant, which covers the years 1990 until 2010, has received approval by the Dutch Parliament before it has been signed. 1990 is considered to be the base year for setting the quantitative environmental reduction targets with regard to emissions to air, water and soil and for waste generation, energy consumption etc.